March 26, 2014
Book Short: Internet Fiction
It’s been a long time since I read Tom Evslin’s Hackoff.com, which Tom called a “blook” since he released it serially as a blog, then when it was all done, as a bound book. Mariquita and I read it together and loved every minute of it. One post I wrote about it at the time was entitled Like Fingernails on a Chalkboard.
The essence of that post was “I liked it, but the truth of the parts of the Internet bubble that I lived through were painful to read,” applies to two “new” works of Internet fiction that I just plowed through this week, as well.
Eliot Pepper’s brand new startup thriller, Uncommon Stock, was a breezy and quick read that I enjoyed tremendously. It’s got just the right mix of reality and fantasy in it. For anyone in the tech startup world, it’s a must read. But it would be equally fun and enjoyable for anyone who likes a good juicy thriller.
Like my memory of Hackoff, the book has all kinds of startup details in it, like co-founder struggles and a great presentation of the angel investor vs. VC dilemma. But it also has a great crime/murder intrigue that is interrupted with the book’s untimely ending. I eagerly await the second installment, promised for early 2015.
The Circle was brilliant. I went back and read a little of the tech criticism and all I could think was things like “wow – hubris” or “that person could benefit from a little reflection on the word irony”… We’ve taken Peter Drucker’s famous quote “‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” to an absurd extreme in the tech business. We believe we’ve mastered operant conditioning through the use of visible metrics associated with actions individual users take. We’ve somehow elevated social media metrics to the same level as money in the context of self-worth.
So here’s the scoop on this book. Picture Google, Twitter, Facebook, and a few other companies all rolled up into a single company. Then picture everything that could go wrong with that company in terms of how it measures things, dominates information flow, and promotes social transparency in the name of a new world order. This is Internet dystopia at its best – and it’s not more than a couple steps removed from where we are. So fiction…but hardly science fiction.